In 2006, men accounted for 21 percent of the estimated 6 million soap opera viewers. Turns out, some of those chaps were jocks who, given accommodating daytime schedules, aren't immune to the trappings of today's metrosexual male culture. "Believe it or not, we mostly reach out because word gets back to us that these guys are fans," explains "General Hospital" casting director Mark Teschner. "For them, it's a thrill."
Like Brewers outfielder Bill Hall, who'd sneak away at lunch hour in high school with a girlfriend to catch "Days of Our Lives," Montreal Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray admits that his afternoon naps are preceded by daily doses of "Days." "Like anyone else, athletes get addicted to the drama, and before we know it, we're all closet soap junkies," says Souray, who was so soap-smitten that he married Angelica Bridges, a Days regular ('04). "I knew she was on 'Baywatch,' but when she mentioned she was on 'Days,' I was like 'Wow, you had me at hello.' "
Other jocks who've been bitten by the soaps bug:
All My Children: Danny Sullivan (Champ car, 1987); Summer Sanders (swimming, 1992); Boomer Esiason (NFL, 1996); Bill Guerin, Rob Niedermayer and Kevin Weekes (NHL, 2001); Allan Houston (NBA, 2005); Al Leiter (MLB, 2005); Tiki Barber (NFL, 2005).
As the World Turns: D.J. Lockhart-Johnson (NFL, 2004).
The Bold and the Beautiful: Mike Piazza (MLB, 1994).
Days of Our Lives: Casey Mears (NASCAR, 2004).
General Hospital: Johnny Berardino and Yogi Berra (MLB, 1963); Jim Kelly (NFL, 1992), Sinorice Moss (NFL, 2006).
Guiding Light: Mark Schlereth (NFL, 2007); John Riggins (NFL, 2003); Carl Edwards (NASCAR, 2005).
One Life to Live: Scott Gomez, Jeremy Roenick, Sheldon Souray, Chris Therien and Kevin Weekes (NHL, 2001); Jeanette Lee (billiards, 2003).
Passions: Robert Horry (NBA, 1999).
The Young and the Restless: Wayne Gretzky (NHL, 1981, '83); David Justice (MLB, 1992); Muhammad Ali (boxing, 1999); Tara Lipinski (figure skating, 1999); Brian Jordan (MLB, 2000); Robert Griffith (NFL, 2001); Charles Woodson (NFL, 2004); Luke Walton (NBA, 2006); Tony Dorsett (NFL).
-- Sam Alipour